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I know that there are several TCH users who use Linux for their OS instead of Micro$oft.


I don't currently have the luxury of giving it a try and won't until I get myself a second computer. I'd LOVE to dump windows, but since it's all I know... that step is a little scary.


If you have the time, I'd like to hear your thoughts, pros and cons on Linux vs Windows.


Especially, and forgive my ignorance, how many software programs have you found to give you problems on Linux because they were written for Windows?


Also, is this something that is only recommended for a hardcore techie? Or would someone with good to decent computer skills expect to have success?



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Surefire, with the latest versions of Linux you can install it and have it up and running as easy (maybe easier) than you can Windows. The driver diversity is incredible, and I haven't found anything personally that I couldn't do with Linux that I do with Windows, if I could afford to buy some of the programs for Linux that I have invested in MS. I think I own at least one room of Bill Gates house.... :D


The other thing to consider is whether your computer might be able to run both OS's. Not at the same time of course (although that can be done these days) but to choose at boot time. What is your processor speed, HD capacity, etc.? I have both OS's on my machine, and boot to the one I need.


Just a few things to think over....I'm sure Borfast is the one you really need to be talking with...



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Well, I dumped windows and I'm quite happy about it! :)


I had been using Linux "just for fun" for about 5 years, I think...

Totally switching for Linux was something I wanted to do for about 2 years and a few months ago, I finally had the push I needed: Windows crashed on me, destroying the report I had been woring on for about 7 hours... DON'T say anything about regularly saving my work... :D


I'm not the best person to talk about how easy it is to make the switch, since I already used Linux a lot before switching. Not as my main Operating System but I used it enough to be quite comfortable with it. After I made the switch, I found that the only thing I lacked when using Linux (when I still had windows as my main OS) was my e-mail client!

I know this sounds odd but I'm serious! And I know some other people who discovered the same thing.


What I'm trying to say is that maybe switching to Linux is easier than one might think.


Easier because with today's Linux distributions, you have all the bells and whistles you have with Windows.

You have gorgeous Desktops that might even be themed to look exactly like Windows or MacOS X.

These desktops follow the "start button" philosophy. You have a toolbar where you can see all the applications you have running. You also have a button (I know! I did it on purpose so you could see that it's not only made for western users) in that toolbar that opens up a menu where you can access all your applications and some other stuff.


That said, people should also know that there is indeed a dark side to all this.

Linux is a bit trickier than Windows, because Windows does everything for you. In Linux, there are some things that are not so automatic as we would like them to be.

For example, if you insert a floppy disk in the floppy drive, you won't be able to access it immediately - you have to "mount" it first.


Hard disks are not labeled as in DOS (windows) based operating systems.

What would be "C:\" in DOS/Windows, in Linux becomes simply "/", known as the root of your filesystem.


Basically, there are a few things that people should know if they want to use Linux. I think the two most important are the way the filesystem works and the mount/unmount stuff for drives (which is part of the way the filesystem works, anyway).


Oh, there is also another thing that people usually ask when they want to know more about Linux: "Will my Windows programs run OK if I switch to Linux?".

The short answer is no.

These are two different operating systems, which means that programmers need to create different executables of their programs for each of them.

There are programs that have both Linux and Windows executables available but Windows executables won't run under Linux and Linux executables won't run under Windows.


But since there seems to be an exception for every rule, there *is* a way of running windows programs under Linux. It's called Wine.

"Wine is not an emulator" - that's what "Wine" means.

But to make things simple, we'll call it an emulator.

An emulator is a program that alows you to run executables meant for other operating systems than the one your computer is running.

Wine allows people to run Windows' programs under Linux.

It's not perfect, so don't expect to be able to run every single application there is. But it runs Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Flash, MS Office, Internet Explorer (though I can't imagine why someone would want to do that, so no commets, please :unsure:)... it runs lots of things. But it has bugs. LOTS of bugs. Meaning that if you use it, you might as well be prepared for frequent crashes or even not running your programs at all.



What I would advise people to do is to get a user-friendly distribution of Linux and install it alongside with Windows.

I *strongly* recommend Red Hat 9, which is freely available for download.


Also, don't go for Mandrake. Everybody says it's great and so much easier than other Linux distributions but from what I've seen, it's not easier to use than Red Hat 8/9.

It can actually be harder, since MandrakeSoft thought that making things a little different from everyone else would be cool, so sometimes you'll get an application that just won't work because files are on non-standard locations and stuff like that.


So, if you want to try Linux without dumping windows, so you can get used to it, you need to create another partition on your harddrive.

It's a fairly easy process. Easier than people usually think :)

There's a few programs that allow you to do that on Windows, PowerQuest's Partition Magic being the king of them all, I'd say.

There are others but I've never used them so I can't tell you how good (or bad) they are.

Basically, you need a program that allows you to repartition the hard disk without losing your files.


If you choose Red Hat 9, make a 5 GB partition.

Of course the size of the partition also depends on how much software you want to install but since RH9 takes around 2 GB with a full Gnome 2.2 Desktop, Mozilla 1.2.1 (excellent web browser; easily upgradable to 1.4), Ximian Evolution 1.2 (e-mail client and personal information management), OpenOffice.org 1.0 (replacement for MS Office) and lots of other software... I don't think you'll need much more than 5 GB to start with.


Anyway... after having created another partition, you just put in the first CD into the drive and reboot your computer (make sure it's BIOS is configured to boot from the CD first and only then from the floppy/HDD).


You should see the installer starting up. Usually you just have to press enter to go into graphical mode. From there, it's just like a Windows instalation.


The important part is when you select where you want to install your new operating system. Here, you'll have to chose the partition that you just created. This part is important because if you choose the wrong partition, you could erase your entire Windows instalation. But that's hard to do, since it's all explained right there and whenever you're making some decision that will erase something, you will be warned about it.


If you do want to try that, Red Hat has a great online manual about installing Linux in a dual-boot configuration.

You can find all of Red Hat's manuals here:


The first one is the one that interests you:



Well, this post is getting huge, so I guess I'll stop here... :D


Hope this helps!

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I forgot to mention one VERY important thing: if you download Red Hat instead of buying it, you only need the first three CDs!


EDIT: Hmm... :) I meant to edit my last post, not add a new one... <_<

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I suppose it's time I add my $0.02 to the discussion.


I started tinkering with Linux in the pre-1.0 kernel days back in 95-ish, IIRC. I installed Slackware onto a partition of the 386 I was using to run my BBS on. I later deleted it as I honestly hadn't a clue what I was doing.


Later, when I started college in 96, I installed Slackware again and ran it almost full time on my computer at school. Linux is a wonder thing if you're a computer science student and/or have a fast network connection available to you. :) Back then, I was using Pine for my email (Pegasus Mail the rare times I was in Windows). A few monts after I started school, I figured I'd try out this "Red Hat" distribution everyone was talking about. I backed everything up to tape and then installed Red Hat. Unfortunately, the floppy tape driver wasn't enabled by default (and I hadn't really learned enough by then to enable it), so I was stuck rebuilding my setup from scratch effectively. Not a problem. I learned quite a bit that time around.


After I left school, and had some problems (HD space issues) upgrading my machine to Red Hat 5.2, I decided to give Debian a try. By far, my favorite Linux distribution. I used Debian's unstable branch for about 3-4 years, both at home and at work. One of the best package management systems I've ever seen (runs circles around Red Hat's rpm from what I remember). In that time I had started with the View Mail mode in Emacs for reading my email, then moved to Mutt (which I still use and love) which also led me to start using Vim (great text editor, though there is a learning curve).


The latest OS I've tried is FreeBSD (I did do a little tinkering with NetBSD on some Sun machines I picked up on eBay a couple years ago). FreeBSD is my current favorite and I forsee using it for a long time. The Ports system is great, and by extension the entire OS distribution model is wonderful. The kernel is rock solid and runs just about any Unix binary (for the same architecture) out there, Linux included. I don't think I could say enough good things about FreeBSD; I'm hooked.


And on a side note, for anybody who is interested in trying out any of these, or any other free Operating Systems out there, and doesn't have the connection speed to download CD at a reasonable rate, just let me know and I'll be happy to send out a couple CDs (heck, maybe even a "OS Sampler" of sorts). Or you could always order from CheapBytes. I've done business with them before and always had a good experience. OS's for less than $10 (usually) plus shipping. Well worth the price. ;)


And on another side note, it would be worth your time to wander sites like Freshmeat to see what kind of applications are out there.


This whole discussion is reigniting my urge to post a bunch of my config files (for Mutt, Vim, Zsh, etc.) to my site just because i can.


That's pretty much what this all boils down to. With Linux/FreeBSD, I can get my computer to do absolutely whatever I want it to without having to fight with or "work around" the system in some way and without having to actually shell out a single dime for anything beyond hardware, as long as I'm willing to spend the time to read documentation. I am constantly changing things around in my desktop, both in the looks department and in functionality. If there is absolutely anything I want to do in my desktop, either to the destop or windows themselves, or within an application, I can find a way to do it. I have complete access to the underlying operating system and to the applications that I use. If there are bugs I find and would like to fix, or capabilities that I would like added, and I have the time to do it, I can.


What can I say, I can be a control freak at times. B)

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I have Red Hat 9 and Windows XP on my laptop. I also have Trillian which has no Linux version or I'd use Red Hat a lot more. Borfast's comments about Wine reminded me that I had not tried it since installing Red Hat 9. I had some problems with it on Mandrake so haven't done much with it. I installed it tonight and am ran Trillian through Wine. It worked for a while but locked up so looks like I'll play with tweaking it later and see if I can get it to run.

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I have to agree with rayners. I love FreeBSD. I was able to set it up first try in less time than it took to install windows. Surefire, I know you are smart enough to follow directions. Give it a go, you will be happy you did if for nothing more than to say you were able to do it and I think you will be happy with the end result.

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Some people use computers to DO things, i.e., graphics, programming, gaming, web surfing, e-mail, etc. Others use computers simply because there's nothing quite like bringing an operating system to life, like when Linux actually boots up after an hour of installating, trying to figure out what kind of hardware the computer is using, internet connection, IP address...


In a warped way it's kind of like being the creator of a little world, virtual though it is. Once Linux is running, then comes the fun part of configuring, upgrading, and customizing the desktop...so many choices! Hell, the first time your e-mail client retrieves your e-mail it's like the sun suddenly comes out from behind the clouds.


Really, it is pretty cool. I have a Pentium IV with a dual boot partition, running WinXP and RedHat Linux. There is a good boot/partition manager called BootIt Next Generation that I like. It's less expensive than PowerQuest's Partition Magic.


My two cents.



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Wow, this is like discovering a whole new world.


I can really relate to what phatfunkjazz said

Some people use computers to DO things, i.e., graphics, programming, gaming, web surfing, e-mail, etc. Others use computers simply because there's nothing quite like bringing an operating system to life,


I want to do BOTH... if only there were more hours in the day. Right now I've got a flood of web design business that's piling up. So play time will have to wait until next week.


This information is awesome! I can't wait to jump into this... and the stuff you guys have posted is like getting a huge boost up the learning curve.

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Rickvz, there's really no need to use Trillian. You have Gaim ;)

I do load GAim and Yahoo Messenger when I run Red Hat. But I love having Trillian in Windows since it will load my AIM, Y!, MSN, ICQ, plus the plugins for todo lists and checking pop3 accounts. I really like having all that in one program.

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Rickvz, there's really no need to use Trillian. You have Gaim ;)

I do load GAim and Yahoo Messenger when I run Red Hat. But I love having Trillian in Windows since it will load my AIM, Y!, MSN, ICQ, plus the plugins for todo lists and checking pop3 accounts. I really like having all that in one program.

I use Gaim for AIM and Yahoo. It also has plugins for Jabber, MSN, IRC, and a couple others I've never even heard of before. :o


As for checking pop3 accounts, there's programs like Gbuffy or Xbiff. Heck, I haven't written anything in C in a while. Maybe I should look into the plugin API for Gaim. ;)

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I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed these posts. I use both Linux and Windows quite a bit. I use Mandrake (8.2 as a server and 9.0 as a regular, everyday OS) and Windows 2000. My work machine runs Mandrake 9.0 and Windows 2000 in a virtual machine (VMWare). I can definitely understand Borfast's comment about Mandrake putting some things in non-standard locations, but I have been using Mandrake since 7.1 - I'm very used to and comfortable with it. I tried RedHat for a little while, but I've become so used to Mandrake & its quirks that Redhat seemed almost foreign...


There are several Linux distributions which boot & run from a CD. This is really convenient - you can "look & play around" in Linux without doing anything to your Windows installation other than re-booting. Knoppix seems to be a good place to start.


If you do decide to try Linux, I think you'll be happily surprised - if you give it some time, and are willing to learn. If it weren't for a few work related, custom written apps, I'd ditch Windows for my work related PC use in a heartbeat. At home, I use Linux, but the kids need a windows PC - for games. Not that there aren't a lot of great games for Linux, just not as many as for Windows. Plus, my son uses Windows at school - no use confusing a 7 year old. Give him a couple more years, and I'll have another Linux convert on my hands.


By no means am I a Linux expert, but I'm always willing to answer any questions that I can. Any reason to move away from M$ is a good reason in my mind.



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Yeah, I forgot to mention that kind of distributions.

Yes, they're really usefull for trying Linux without messing up your Windows installation.


I don't know Knoppix, I've never used it but they have KDE as the default desktop and I don't like that... :P

But that's just my personal preference, so don't let yourself be influenced by that :)


Anyway, you guys might want to take a look at this site:



They have a specially useful section for beginners, with detailed descriptions of all major Linux distributions:


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You need to check to see if all of your hardware is supported. I have a modem/sound card thing and it isn't supported so I can't play music, I also can't use the modem, but I don't need to anymore with broadband.

Borfast: Why do you think Red Hat is better? I'm not trying to start an argument, I just would like to know what you think.


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I think Red Hat is better for people starting to use Linux, not for everybody.

It's really easy to install, comes with a lot of usefull software, it's constantly updated, it has nice support...

People need an OS that is simple to install, simple to use, simple to adapt to their needs, intuitive... and Red Hat is all that. I think it's the best way for a novice user to get started in the Linux world.


For the rest of the experienced users, Linux is Linux.

You can take SlackWare, change every little bit of it and turn it into Debian.

I don't think there's a better-than-all-the-others distribution.

Of course you can point things like the frequency of the updates, or the default security level and configuration, etc... but in the end, what I said remains: it's Linux - you can do whatever you want with it :)


That's the whole purpose of Open Source and Free Software.

You get the source code so you can make changes to the software in order to make it fit your needs. Then you share those changes with the resto of the community.

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*Just my opinion, not an argument* :)


I personally think that Mandrake has all of those things except for it being constantly updated. I don't think it has that or I just don't know how to do that. I might try Red Hat.


Borfast: What window manager do you use?

I like KDE because it is closest to windows, which I am used to.



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Excellent thread! Maybe the best I have read here (that is why I had to post, did not want to be excluded). :)


Funny, I have never considered changing... to many limitations and who wants to start way down there on a new learning curve.


I am surprised how many here are steeped in Linux. In addition, when I look at the individuals who have contributed to this thread (having followed posts in other threads you gain a certain respect for certain individuals) I am even more interested in the topic.


Right now, my platter is a bit full but when things cool down, I think I will begin a migration.


Again.... thank you to all!

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Yes, most definitely. I was trying to infer that by using the phrase 'begin a migration'... a slow, sequential serious of steps to a new place... then to return again (sort of like the geese).

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Borfast: What window manager do you use?

I like KDE because it is closest to windows, which I am used to.

First of all, allow me a small correction: KDE (and Gnome, too) is what is called a "desktop environment", not a window manager. I must say I'm not the best person to talk about this difference so I searched google and here's a simple explanation:

The difference between a desktop environment and a window manager is that an environment provides a desktop, while a window manager just handles the window dressing. An environment needs a WM, but not vice versa. The only 2 environments are Gnome and KDE. Common window managers for Gnome are Sawfish and Enlightenment. KDE has its own window manager (kwm).
Here's a link to another better explanation if anyone is interested (recommended, since the above explanation is not very accurate in some aspects): http://www.tuxfiles.org/linuxhelp/xwtf.html



Now, to answer your question:

I don't find KDE closer to Windows than Gnome.

I think both KDE and Gnome 2 are *very* easy to use and any windows user won't feel too discomfortable with any of them. But I guess in the end it's all about personal preferences.


As for my preference, before Gnome 2 I used to think that KDE was way better than Gnome. At least IMHO. SO that's what I used.

KDE has always been slower than Gnome, that's a fact. But it had all the bells and whistles that I was used to and it was easier to use than Gnome 1.x.


But then Gnome 2 came and turned things a bit upside down for me.

First of all, I found it much faster than Gnome 1.4 (though people say Gnome 2 is slower than Gnome 1 but I see it the other way), so that meant it was even faster than it already was, when compared to KDE.

Everything was so much easier to do than in Gnome 1, there were so much more features...

I decided to give it a try.

This was when I installed Red Hat 8.0 beta. By the time 8.0 final came out, I had already converted myself to Gnome 2 and have been using it since then :)


There's another thing that I can't quite explain:

It's true that Gnome is not as mature as KDE but it looks to me that Gnome is progressing in the right direction, while KDE is wandering a little bit off it's path...



Borfast: Can you use other window managers with Red Hat 9?

Is Red hat free? Can I just download it?


I'm assuming that once again you mean desktop environments and not window managers.

Yes, you can. Red Hat comes with both KDE 3.1 and Gnome 2.2 available for installation. You just have to choose the one that pleases you most.

And if there's another desktop environment out there that you like better... hey, It's linux, just get the thing, compile it and run it! :lol:


As for the free part...

Linux is "Free Software", so yes, it's free...

But here's a better explanation from GNU's website:


Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

  • [*] The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).


[*] The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.


[*] The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).


[*] The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.


A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission.


If you want to read a bit more about this, go to this webpage:



I had already posted somewhere in this thread that Red Hat Linux is available free of charge (and any Linux distribution, for that matter). Here's the link again for downloading Red Hat Linux: http://www.redhat.com/download/products.html

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In addition to the GNU Public License (GPL for short), there are many, many different types of open source licences out there.


Take a look at the definition of Open Source on the Open Source Initiative's website. Here's a short definition from the main page there:


The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.


One thing I should probably mention, one of the main people behind GNU is Richard Stallman. He is considered by some in the open source community to be a bit of a zealot (you may have heard the GPL called a "viral" license). There are many other licenses that are less restrictive about what you can do with modifications to source code (the BSD and MIT licenses for example). The main gist of the GPL license is that if you distribute a program that contains code from a program released with the GPL license, you must make available the source code to your program as well. That is a bit of a generalization, but that's basically how it works.

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Now that I think about it, anybody interested in some of the thinking behind open source might do well to read Eric S. Raymond's essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, about his experiences writing fetchmail. Definately a worthwhile read.


Heck, if memory serves me right, that essay was what convinced the Netscape leadership to open source their browser and create the Mozilla project.

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I recommend you take a look at Knoppix (www.knoppix.net) first. It creates and runs from a ramdisk (128Mb or better, please) so you can take a look before installing anything. I does the best job I've found of recognizing hardware, including an old HP laptop that XP had trouble with. You can do anything with it after it's running, including Web surfing. If you like it, you can install it to your hard drive. ( Ask me for instructions, if needed.)


Just download the .iso (mucho big - 600Mb+) and burn to a CD, then boot from it. At the boot: prompt, type knoppix lang=en (unless you speak German!) and watch her go.


I have a hard drive installation running a jabber IM server at work and it hasn't missed a beat.




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Errr... did anyone edit my post about the window managers?


It's missing the answer to AtomicVPp's first question, "Borfast: What window manager do you use?"


I even threw in a nice description of the difference between a window manager and a desktop environment but now it's all gone. The only thing left is the answer to AtomicVPp's second question, "Borfast: Can you use other window managers with Red Hat 9? Is Red hat free? Can I just download it?"


What happened?? :) :D :)

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Strange, I wasn't seing the first part but then I edited my post and everything was there. I didn't change a thing, only clicked the "OK" button and now it's all there again... :D


Well, everything is fine, now, so ignore these posts regarding this. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I teach GNU/Linux at a Canadian community college. I've been using

Unix/Linux for about 27 years. I'll summarize my background and give

my thoughts on using Linux from that perspective.


I started using Bell Labs Unix V7 (the O/S after which GNU/Linux was

ultimately modelled) while taking Computer Science courses at the

University of Waterloo in 1976. It was all command-line (like DOS);

no graphical user interface (GUI). In the 1980's we started using the X

Window system - a graphical system that ran on top of Unix. Mostly I used

the GUI to let me run multiple command-line text consoles on one display.

At home, I would use a plain ASCII terminal to dial into the Unix machine

at school - no graphics. Unix was my only O/S until I bought my first

personal computer in 1996.


My first personal computer was a P166/64MB that ran Windows 95. (No,

I never used DOS or WIndows 3.x.) I played with Windows 95 for a year or

two, customized all kinds of things, peeked and poked and generally had a

good time, except for all the unexplained crashes. I mostly ran a program

that allowed my home Unix machine (a DEC workstation) to open windows

on my Windows machine, so I was typing into Unix on my Windows desktop.

I bought Microsoft Office; I used Power Point and Excel in my teaching.


In 1998 I picked up a free copy of SuSE GNU/Linux (a European

distribution) at a local Linux Users Group. I had an ever better time

poking and prodding than I had with Windows, and there were almost

no crashes. Shortly after that, I tried and stayed with a Mandrake

distribution (from France). I'm currently upgrading my machines from

Mandrake 8.2 to Mandrake 9.1.


With Microsoft's conviction for illegal and monopolistic trade practices

in the late 1990's, I made a moral choice to avoid the company as

much as possible. "Does not play well with others" is something of

an understatement. My best work has always been in cooperative and

collaborative projects, such as the Ottawa FreeNet and teaching in

general. GNU/Linux and the open-source movement fit this well.


As a concession to the illegal monopoly, I bought "Win4Lin", a program

that lets me boot Windows inside a window on my Linux desktop and run many

Windows programs. (It boots Win98 inside Linux in less than 10 seconds.)

I haven't had a machine that boots Windows natively in a year or two.


I think non-mainstram companies (and non-mainstream Linux distributions)

try harder to satisfy their customers than companies with larger market

share. Linux and Apple have user-fests where people get together to say

how much they love their computers and share their work. You'll find

discussion threads like this one about Linux and how neat it is - it's

rare to find a similar one about any Microsoft product. When you pay

big money for all your software, you aren't so keen about freely sharing

the work you do with others. GNU/Linux is a very sharing community.


I'm a power user of computers. I grew up without menus. I learned the

power (and fun!) that comes from knowing how to write little programs to

make the computer do what *I* wanted it to do. When the graphical user

interfaces arrived, the things I wanted to do often weren't on any menus.

No problem - I just wrote little programs to do them, and typed their

names on the command line or stuck the little programs into the menus.


Under Linux, the open-source philosophy gives me the source to the

programs that do everything I see on my desktop. I can copy, learn,

and modify anything to work the way I want it to. In another forum,

you'll see that I went to the Apache source code to track down the exact

meaning of an error a user was seeing. Windows users can't do this;

all the software is secret. Sharing isn't allowed. That's not the kind

of environment in which I like to work.


It's difficult for users of commercial software to click on anything that

isn't there to make the parent company more money. Commercial success

isn't measured by whether you *like* the product; it's measured by whether

you *buy* the product (and buy the endless series of upgrades).


Things are in Linux because people *like* them there. We *wanted*

them there. It's not because they make profit for someone. If I think

something else should be there, I have access to the code; I can write

it and give it to you. Linux is a software suite that gives us real

freedom and power. We can share, we can learn, and it's all free.

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Excellent post, idallen!! :o


I can relate to almost everything you said! :)

Well, I never used a DEC computer or had a 'true' UNIX at my place but I also started with the command line (Slackware or Debian, anyone?) :D


Anyway, I think this topic is becoming something every Linux newby should read! :)

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What we wanted to preserve was just not a good environment in which to do programming, but a system around which a fellowship could form. - Dennis Ritchie (co-originator of the Unix operating system)

That's what I like about the Linux/Unix community - it's a fellowship.

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Before I dive into the Linux world I have a couple of questions.


What is SuSe Linux and why when Linux is a Free OS is it £80?


Is it worth paying for over the free versions?


I had decided to move away from windows and was planning on starting fresh, but after reading this post I have decide I will run Linux along side windows while I get used to it.


This is a great thread and there are so many others like it floating about, they could do with indexing in a knowledge base site or something similar.



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Suse Linux is available for free, too, as is every Linux-based OS.


You can get it here:



I wouldn't go for Suse, though. I'd try Red Hat first.

People also say that Mandrake is very good for beginners but actually, it's not much different.

Red Hat is as easy to install as Mandrake - actually, I'd say it's even easier, because Red Hat has lots of excellent online documentation: http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/linux/R...install-guide/;

from what I've seen in Mandrake's site, Red Hat has better support;

Mandrake can be a little frustrating since they thought it would be nice to put some files in non-standard locations and therefore, some programs freak out;

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I think the difference in paying for linux and downloading it is, if you pay for it you get the books and manuals and such, you can buy mandrake or red hat at wal mart here in town for $25 and the only difference is it comes with manuals.

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Yes, I forgot to mention the differences.


In addition to what leezard said, you also get the CDs but most importantly, you'll usually get 90 (depending on which distribution you buy) days of support.

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Dont get me wrong... I love Linux... but



//banta has been up for : 492 day(s), 19 hour(s), 47 Minute(s), 51 Second(s)



Yea - I can get those figures from Windows if I don't use the computer. Goof

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Okay, I'm a latecomer to this thread, but I'll throw in my $0.02.


Unless you're a geek - and I mean that in the nicest way :angry: - that likes to tinker with computers or you're dirt-poor, Linux is a PITA as a desktop OS.


Now I'm a geek, so I speak from experience. I'm an electrical engineer at Motorola, and I my only computer there is a Solaris worstation, so I am a certified *NIXer. But at the end of the day, I just want something that works, and that I don't have to fuss around with. That, for me, is a Windows XP box.


I used to dual-boot with Linux - first Red Hat, then Mandrake - but I just became fed up with the variety of applications that always felt half-finished. There are certainly some very powerful applications, like the GIMP for example, but they are generally less polished and not as feature-full as their Windows counterparts. Additionally, Linux often is not able to take advantage of some of the more recent advances in hardware - IEEE 1394 (FireWire) being a prime example. Throught no fault of it's own, Linux always seems to be a few years behind the latest on the Windows or Mac side of things. It's not that it isn't capable; it just doesn't have enough leverage.


Browsing is a pain in Linux. While there are capable browsers like Mozilla or Konqueror, the web has become largely a Windows (or Mac) playground. Many sites nowadays offer Windows Media or Quicktime only multimedia clips. Flash and Java plugins on Linux are always behind the curve. There are workarounds for some of these, but they are largely hacks that sometimes work and sometimes don't.


Don't get me wrong, there's a lot about Linux to like - it's free, it's never going to be end-of-lifed, and there's a big community of people that are always willing to help you out. I'm fairly certain that within five years, all the Solaris boxes at my job will be replaced with Linux workstations. Hopefully, Linux will begin to make significant headroads into the mainstream by then. I just don't think it's ready for Grandma at this point.

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I hope you don't be offended but you're not a true geek, man... not if you don't like to fiddle around with your OS! :P


Seriously, now. Judging by your words, I'm willing to bet you don't (really) play with linux for at least a year or two.


What I mean is that everything you said used to be true but not anymore.


Linux is still slower than Windows when it comes to adopting new hardware stuff, yes. But that's because hardware manufacturers are stupid and don't make drivers for it. But that goes for your Solaris box at work, too ;)

Even so, they're starting to realise that there *are* actually people who use Linux as a Desktop OS and new hardware is starting to come out with drivers for Linux alongside with the Windows ones. Take a look at NVidia, for example. They started providing Linux drivers for their graphics chips at least three years ago (I think they did it even earlier but I'm not sure).


Another thing that leads me to say you're not a geek are your words about browsers and the web. I've been using Mozilla as my standard browser for more than two years and I can use my right hand fingers to count the number of times I had to switch to another browser to see a website - and I'm a ferocious web surfer!

If your problem is about playing movies, get mozplugger and there you go, everything you need to watch movies in your browser!

And no, this is not a "legacy hack", it's simply a plugin that makes use of other software which is capable of playing movies, to show them on your browser window. Small pieces of specialized software being used together to accomplish a greater goal. The *nix way. But I bet you already knew that, as a "certified *nixer"... :P


Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bash you or anything, I'm just showing my point of view with a twist of humour and I'm quite certain that most Linux users on this board will agree with me.


Is there a lot more software for Windows than for Linux? Unfortunately, if you work in the CAD/CAM area, forget Linux. For the rest... well, have you seen Disney's latest movie, Sinbad? ;)

If you say there aren't many applications for Linux, I say you probably haven't searched enough.


Is it still harder to administer, configure and use than Windows? Yes. Is it *much* harder? No. And it gets easier with every new release!


But in the end, it all comes down to personal preferences.

There are people who just don't have the patience it takes to learn the ins and outs of their system, to know the little details of the OS... I guess that's the price to pay for using an operating system that is stable, Free (Free Software) and allows you to learn a great deal about computers :)

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No offense taken! Of course, this is all my own opinion. In fact, it has been about two years since I last looked at Linux seriously, but your arguments were the same ones I heard even back then. The Linux community is notorious for brushing aside issues that should have been taken care of a long time ago - like TT fonts, for instance, simply because they either think they are unimportant and they just live with them, or they want to move on to other things.


And I never said Linux was lacking in applications. It's more a matter of fact that many of the applications available are either very hard to use for someone non-technical, they have very poor documentation, or they are half-finished. Take the GIMP, for example. The GIMP is a very powerful app. However, the interface for it is extremely non-intuitive compared to something like Photoshop Elements and the documentation for the GIMP is scant as well. Is Photoshop Elements worth the $35 - $40 for those benefits? Well, that's something that each user has to decide for himself.


As far as Mozilla, I'm well aware of how nice a browser it is as I use it on Solaris exclusively. If it wasn't for Mozilla, I'd be stuck with an old version of Netscape 4 for browsing. I also know that the Windows plugins in general seem to work better than the non-Windows ones. Perhaps this isn't the case anymore, but it was when I ran Linux, and it still is today for Solaris.


In my own case, one of the primary reasons I use the computer, DV, is practically non-existant on Linux. The IEEE 1394 drivers are poor and the editing suites are extremely limited compared to what's available on Windows or Macs. Certainly, my case is probably not very common yet, but it's just one example of a task that is becoming very common that is difficult or impossible on Linux.


Believe me, I personally can't wait for the day when anyone can walk down to CompUSA and browse the Linux desktop section. IMO, the primary reason why XP is so nice and stable is that Linux has pushed Microsoft to make it that way. I also think that anyone who is technically savvy enough to run their own website can install and run Linux.


If you can live with some of these issues, Linux can make a great desktop. I personally wouldn't want to use it as my primary desktop, but maybe it's me that's missing something.

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>Linux is a PITA as a desktop OS.


Compared to Windows, yes.


And democracy is a PITA compared to one-product totalitarian societies,

and for many of the same reasons.


I choose the PITA. The rest of you *will* be assimilated. :-)

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> I choose the PITA. The rest of you *will* be assimilated. :-)


C'mon, you're a geek! :P You teach computer science. You're not like most people. :D


Seriously, I don't want to talk anyone out of using Linux. If someone wants to check it out, let them. It's not going to cost anyone anything other than some hard drive space and the time to install and administer it. I used it for over three years, so I have some perspective on the issue.


In the end though, Linux simply didn't do what I needed it to do. YMMV.

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Why the Anti AZ avitar? As for me, I used to run Linux and then FreeBSD. I enjoyed tweaking with it. I like the satisfaction in the end. I do everything I can myself, from building my own computers to fixing my own car. To me there is a satisfaction to completing something yourself. It can be simple like replacing a head gasket and knowing you saved a bundle to getting the OS "just the way you want it". I still have Windows machines and I do like the OS as well. I guess I am one of those neither Win/Linux/Mac or Intel/AMD kind of people. I am an if it works for you kind of person.

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Welcome to my personal web page dedicated to that paradigm (U of A graduates click here) of academic and athletic mediocrity: The University of Arizona


Hmmmm.....me doth suspect a rivalry.... woooot

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Having been to Tucson I can see why, that town has sidewalks in front of one yard and then nothing for 2 or 3 houses. Not that there is anything wrong with the town, not every place in a state is exciting. :) Then again college ball isnt my thing, though I will say ASU has some nice sites around campus. Should have done my homework to see it was somebody from my town, small world.

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